The trail starts in Fóia, the highest point of the Algarve at 902m, and crosses typical landscapes of the Monchique Mountains, Mediterranean and Atlantic influences mix in this igneous mass of syenite, resulting in a mild and hyper-humid environment, favourable to the occurrence of rare and exclusive plants.
In Fóia, the horizon opens in all directions, affording unimpeded views towards the Vicentine Coast, the mountains to the north, and the series of hills and valleys sloping down towards the southern coast. The view extends along the coast to the estuary of the Arade, to the east, and Ponta da Piedade, to the west. In this stony environment, among the small shrubs, you can observe some small passerines, such as the common whitethroat, the common linnet or the rock bunting.
The path descends abruptly down a dirt path, between high scrub and terraces where cherry, apple and chestnut trees grow and goats and cows graze. The spontaneous vegetation consists of tall heather and lavender bushes, patches of gorse and cistus, wrapped in brambles and ferns.
A dense forest of maritime pines and eucalyptus trees gives way to an open landscape, and the path goes on midway up the slope and crossing over small streams. There are monumental cork oaks and chestnut trees, and exuberant vegetation, with common hawthorn, showy bellflowers and rhododendron. The common rhododendron, a relic of Laurisilva forests, is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, and grows only in Monchique, in the Serra do Caramulo and in the Aljibe Massif (Andalusia, Spain). Likewise, the Bonelli’s eagle and the water lizard are two other endangered species that have found refuge in Portugal.
Back to Fóia again, this time up the northern slope. You can see the jumble of syenite blocks, and the low vegetation that signals the increase in altitude. Among the heather there are plants unique to this environment, especially in spring: dwarf gorse, rosa-albardeira (Paeonia broteri), the common rhododendron and the delicate mountain sandwort.
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 6,9 km
Average duration: 2h
Cumulative elevation gain: 355 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths and asphalt road
Start of the trail: 37º 18' 56.05'' N 8º 35' 31.17'' W